T’was the night before Christmas, and…

I for one was quite pleasantly surprised to see that the Times did not let us down, and dropped a special online-only Listener down our e-chimneys.  I had just put up my stocking, was sitting in front of a roaring fire with a wee cup of eggnog and I thought I’d peek in and see what I could find.

This was going to take some solving.  I thought that Zaphod would be a new setter, but it appears that there was one other Zaphod Listener (2325B: The Crying of Lot 49:3) that was an online-only special in 1974, thus only available to members of the French scientific community.  I remember trying it as a 4-year old, and as luck would have it, the requirement that the answers be completed in fingerpaint and the crossword drooled on in the north-west corner led to my first completion (I still have the copy of “A Bottle of Champagne” by W.H.Smiths that came with the prize).

The preamble called for the solver to not only make up the clues, but also the grid, then jumble half of the across entries and replace all instances of a certain letter with pictures of an animal to be determined by letters latent in the unwritten clues.  I’d come across this device once, and, not wanting to fall into the trap, immediately drew up a Playfair code-square and determined the code word to be HUMANIST.

There was no 1 across (nor indeed any other clues) so there wasn’t a chance to see if this puzzle passed the 1 across test.  A first breakthrough came while cracking peanuts on the edge of the bar in a Las Vegas brothel, when I realised that isomeric species were to be entered whenver possible, so BUTENE was to be entered as METHYLCYCLOPROPANE with three letters occupying each square except the center, which was to have a picture of a duck.

The letters latent in the down clues read STOP SCANNING IN YOUR CRUMMY GRIDS, TOSSPOT (I thought it ingenious to use a comma as a Letter Latent) and the main diagonal read YOU STEAL ALL YOUR IDEAS FROM SAMUEL.

This being only the second time I have been directly attacked by a setter (Phi once clued GEORGE as “Asswipe loser blogger with this is a BS roll disaster (6)”), I submitted my entry to 4117.5: Headache, by Zaphod in a specimen bag containing just the right amount of DNA.

See you next week.

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2 Responses

  1. Yes, well. For a superficial blog I suppose that will have to do. Next time could we have a bit more detail please. I think that you have set up more than you have knocked down here. (Oh, and it was brilliant)

  2. Nah – not my style of comp anag at all. Must be some other Greek character.

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